Home > Time's Mirror (The Chronos Files #2.5)(10)

Time's Mirror (The Chronos Files #2.5)(10)
Rysa Walker

“First—and please don’t take this the wrong way—but how you can be so freaking perky after a day of torturing people? I mean, yes, it’s for their own good, but…doesn’t it wear you down?”

“Oh, no!” She looks genuinely appalled. This is the first time that I’ve seen her smile fade, and I feel a little guilty, like I’ve swatted down a butterfly.

“I love my work! I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. Why? Are you unhappy with your progress? You’ve hit every target and even exceed—”

“No, no,” I assure her. “I just…wondered. It seems like it might be depressing. Do all of your patients hit their targets?”

“Well…no,” she admits. “Most of them do, though! And I can almost always tell if it’s because they really can’t handle it or if it’s because they just aren’t working hard enough. I’ve been doing this for nearly seven years…well, twelve if you count my training…and after a while, you just know.”

“How old are you?” I ask, thinking my earlier assessment of her age must be way off.

“Twenty-two.”

I guess my jaw flopping open telegraphs that I’m shocked, because she laughs. “It must be so strange for you. We studied early education systems in history class and…would I have even started my career yet?”

“I don’t think so. You might have started medical school, but I doubt you’d be dealing with patients.”

“I’m so glad I wasn’t born back then. I like our way much better.”

Their way, as I understand it, is a far more streamlined method of learning. While the brain is young and pliable, they chemically activate specific centers and put the kid in sort of a hypnotic state to accelerate the learning of basic facts pertinent to the field they’ll be entering. Because they already know the job the kid will have, even before she’s born.

“Did you ever think about doing something else?”

Coralys shakes her head, smiling. “Never. The job is part of who I am. I probably could shift over to doing something similar, but…this is my calling. I’m just lucky that there’s always a need for my skills.”

It’s not so much a calling as a genetic specification, from what Tate says. Before Coralys was born, her parents determined that she would go into medicine and probably even picked the subfield. Her “chosen gift,” that one genetic alteration that each child is allowed, was selected to ensure that she’d do well in her field.

Like Coralys, Tate’s parents decided he’d be a historian before he was born. They didn’t specify a subfield, so someone at CHRONOS decided he’d be studying the Vikings and gave him some extra tweaks that they thought might prove useful. Tate says they were a little too enthusiastic in some respects. Extra strength and stamina are helpful, but they went a little overboard. He has to rein it in when he’s in the field to keep from hurting people or making them suspicious.

Unfortunately for Tate, there really isn’t a use for his skills in a post-CHRONOS world, and they don’t translate very easily to a new profession. So he’ll be working at this new memorial museum they’re building. He looks forward to having something to do, but he’s under no illusions. Talking about Vikings isn’t the same as being there among them.

“Was there anything else?” Coralys asks.

“No. Except…thank you. I probably haven’t said that enough. I really didn’t think my legs would work again, and I do appreciate it.”

Even though I wanted to beat you to a bloody pulp every single day I’ve been here.

I don’t actually say that last bit out loud, and truthfully, I’m not feeling that way at all right this minute. But I definitely did feel that way before.

“The hard work was all on your part, Prudence. I’m so excited that you get to start your new year on your own two feet, outside of the med center! Just keep up the exercises so that you stay limber, okay? And I’ll transfer the release docs to your comm and also your appointment time for our follow-up.”

“Um…I don’t have a comm?” I hold up my right arm and twist it so that she can see both sides are bare, minus the tattoo-ey things everyone uses to store data and communicate. “I should have one in a few weeks, once they get my credits set up.”

They’re not really tattoos, at least not like the permanent kind. They stick to your skin but you can peel them off when you want to upgrade to a new model. And I really do want one. Music, books, videos. It’s basically one of the Pop-Tart devices, except it goes everywhere you do.

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